First F-16 fighters to arrive in Ukraine by July

According to The Standard, Ukraine will receive the first F-16 fighter jets from the West by June or July of this year. A senior military source confirmed the transfer, but did not specify which country the fighters would come from.

On May 21, 2023, U.S. President Joe Biden approved training for Ukrainian pilots on the F-16, and since then, training has already begun in Denmark and other countries. Denmark, according to its Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen, plans to transfer 19 aircraft to Ukraine. The Netherlands and Norway have also announced plans to transfer F-16s, although the exact number of aircraft from Norway remains unknown.

On September 15, 2023, Belgium joined the training of Ukrainian pilots, and on October 11, the Danish Defense Minister said that the first F-16s could be delivered in March-April 2024. However, the Netherlands has already sent planes to Romania to train Ukrainian pilots.

Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder said in January 2024 that training for Ukrainian pilots would end this year, and the first group of four pilots plans to complete their training by the summer of 2024. This was confirmed by the spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force Command, Ilya Yevlash, on May 1, noting that the first fighter jets would arrive after Easter, although the exact timing has not been announced.

On March 18, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis approved the exercises at the Romanian military base in Fetesti. Belgium has approved a €100 million budget for F-16 maintenance for Ukraine, and on April 26, Belgium announced its intention to transfer the fighter jets to Ukraine this year.

This transfer of fighter jets is part of the West’s large-scale support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression and an attempt to strengthen the country’s defense capabilities.

Also, it became known that the first fully functional F-16 trainer was handed over to the Ukrainian Air Force by the Czech Republic.

Ukraine’s path to owning F-16 fighters is very thorny and long. Many analysts believe that the training of Ukrainian pilots on fighter jets and the transfer of these aircraft to Ukraine should have taken place in 2022, when Russia attacked Ukraine. However, due to political obstacles, the announcement and actual start of training took place only at the end of 2023.

Also, Ukrainian pilots were not ready for the start of the exercise, despite their vast combat experience on Soviet MIG-29 and Su-24/25/27 fighters. After all, Soviet teaching techniques and methods are fundamentally different from Western practices. First and foremost, it is knowledge of English, and secondly, basic flight training, which in the West is the same as civilian training. Read more about this in this article, Ukraine may receive the first F-16s in July, but the number of aircraft is limited

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